Are you fed up of spending a fortune on airfare? Then, there’s a good news! Travel hacking is the answer to your travel-related problems. It’s an exciting way to turn credit card welcome bonuses and other incentives into airline miles that can then be used to score discounted or cheap flights from your dream destinations. With a bit of imagination and some knowledge, you can be jet-setting for free in no time.
The Basics of Travel Hacking
Travel hacking is the art of exchanging credit card sign-up bonuses and incentives for airline miles. These miles can later be used to purchase cheap or free flight tickets. Some credit cards also permit you to use miles for hotel stays and rental car offers.
How Does it Work?
The key to success in hacking your travel plans is to take advantage of the sign-up bonuses for credit cards and establishing a frequent flyer mile program with a limited number of airlines. When it comes time to make a booking consider the cost. If the price is less than $300, it’s best to pay in cash and use your miles to pay for a more expensive flight. If the prices start to rise higher than $500, it’s best to look into the frequent flyer account to determine which airline offers you the best deal. It all comes down to the amount of points or miles in your travel account for every airline.
Get Started with Travel Hacking
Ready to learn the secrets to hacking travel? Your first task is to open a credit card that comes with a welcome bonus. There are many great credit cards with a variety of features and benefits. It all depends on your preferred airline, spending habits and the features that are most important to you.
Top Credit Card Picks
Here are a few credit cards perfect to hack travel
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase United Explorer
- JetBlue Mastercard
- Capital One Venture X
Once you’ve been approved for a credit card you’ll need to reach the limit of spending minimum in order to get the bonus. Every card has different rules, so make certain to verify this information. Then you can begin to rack up miles, and using them to plan your dream trip!
Are you ready to set sail with your points?
Now that you’ve built up your points balance, you’re ready to cash them in for some nice getaway! Different credit card companies will have different methods of redeeming your points. Here are some examples from some of the ones I’ve worked with:
Escape by using Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you own an Chase credit card, then you can redeem your points via the Ultimate Rewards portal. In this portal you’ll have access to nearly every airline and you can combine points and cash to book your travel. You can even book completely with points if you’ve the funds to pay for it! Sometimes even if you don’t have enough points to cover the entire price, you can buy flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and pay the balance in cash using any credit card.
Are you tired of paying the full cost for your flight tickets? Did you know that when you book directly through United you can choose the option to pay with either points or dollars? Butbe aware, if you don’t have enough points you can’t combine points and dollars for one flight. No worries though, if you’re only a couple of points away, United also offers the possibility of purchasing additional miles.
Are you looking for a domestic flight? Look no further than JetBlue! JetBlue provides passengers a relaxing and pleasant flight experience with extra space and complimentary snacks. In addition, their booking procedure is similar to that of United Airlines, allowing passengers to book flights using JetBlue dollar or points, but not both. However, JetBlue has a unique feature that lets you pool your points together with your family members and earn points twice as fast. Just make sure you can prove you’re really family before trying to hack into the system.
Hit that Minimum Spend
If you’re like me and my travel buddy Becca, you’re probably pretty economical and it’s challenging to attempt to spend thousands of dollars to hit the minimum amount required to earn the credit card bonus. However, don’t be worried, we’ve been through it and are here to share our tricks and tips.
Pay your rent (if you can)
This is an important one! If you’re able to pay for your rent with credit card, go for it! Just be prepared to pay a fee, usually around 3%. It might be worth it in the end when the bonus is large enough.
Pay a medical bill
Another great way to hit the required spending is to pay for the medical bills. If you don’t have any medical bills in the near future, ask your relatives if you could pay for theirs and they will reimburse you.
Make a payment to pay off the loan
If you’re in the middle of a loan you owe, think about repaying them using your credit card. Just make sure you pay off the credit card balance in full so you don’t accrue additional debt.
Ask family for help
Discuss your family with them and determine if they’ve got any big expenses coming up that you can contribute for. Just make sure you have confidence in the person you are talking to and they are aware of the reason for doing it.
If it’s the holiday season you should consider purchasing all your gifts with cards from your credit account. This way you can hit that minimum spend and also be prepared to give gifts. Be sure to avoid paying more than you thinking of.
There are many ways to make the most of using your credit or debit card for travel. You can accumulate miles or points that you can be used towards airfares or other travel-related costs. Here are a few additional ideas for maximizing your rewards
Pay for travel expenses using your credit card
Whenever you’re planning a trip, make use of you travel credit card for booking your hotel, flight, rental car, and other travel costs. Not only will you be able to hit the required amount to qualify for a credit card bonus as well, however, you’ll also earn points or miles on the expenditures.
Use your credit card for all your daily expenditures
Another way to hit the minimum spending requirement and earn points is by utilising your credit cards for daily costs. This could include items like groceries, gas or even your phone bill. Just make sure to pay the balance off in full each month so you don’t accrue interest charges.
Make the most of bonus categories
A lot of travel credit cards provide miles or bonus points on certain kinds of purchases, such as eating out or traveling. Check out the rewards program of your credit card and make use of the bonus categories that are in line with your spending routines.
Take into consideration a balance transfer
If you are currently in debt on a high-interest credit card, you might want to transfer the balance to an account with a travel credit card that has the introductory APR of 0% for balance transfer. This will allow you to pay off your debt without accruing interest, and also help you hit the minimum amount required to earn the credit card’s bonus.
Utilize your miles and points prudently
When you’ve earned a significant amount of points or miles make sure you use them in a responsible manner. Check out the rewards program on your credit card, and evaluate the benefits of different redemption options. For example, using your points to book a flight directly through the airline may provide you with a greater return than using them for a gift card.
Another option is to get an rewards card that permits you to transfer points to other loyalty programs. This will let you have a wider range of choices and more flexibility in you want to redeem your rewards. For instance, you might be eligible to transfer your rewards to the frequent flyer program of an airline or reward program for hotels. This will give you access to a larger selection of hotels, flights as well as other travel perks that may not be offered through the rewards program on your credit card.
Additionally, try to determine whether your credit card has some perks that could reduce your travel expenses. Some cards offer travel insurance and rental car insurance, baggage protection, and other benefits that can be very beneficial when traveling.
When you travel with someone else each of you will be able to earn rewards with your own credit card. Make sure you don’t divide the cost with the same card, and be sure to track your rewards in a separate manner.
Overall, the key to reaping the maximum benefits from your rewards for travel is to be aware of the rewards program of your credit card and to ensure you’re using your credit card in the most effective way possible. Utilizing an array of strategies I’ve listed that you can earn rewards fast, exchange rewards for valuable travel experiences and take advantage of a broad variety of travel benefits.